can chickens eat venomous spiders

Can Chickens Safely Snack on Venomous Spiders?



—> Last Updated:

Alright buddy, let me tell ya what crazy scene I walked into out in the ole chicken coop the other morning.

I was doing my usual feed distribution and egg collection when something caught my eye.

Ol’ Bertie, my big barred rock hen, was pecking around in the dirt like she usually does sniffing for bugs.

But then I noticed a black speck in her beak and I had to do a double take!

She was chowing down on a spider but this wasn’t any ordinary spider.

As I took a closer look I saw the unmistakable red hourglass marking on its abdomen.

Y’all, Bertie had snatched herself up a black widow spider! No way, I thought to myself, there ain’t no way a poisonous spider like that isn’t gonna do a number on her.

But darned if she didn’t just swallow that thing down whole like it was no big deal! I was flat out stunned watching her, wondering how in tarnation she was still standing after chomping on one of the most venomous spiders out there.

I knew I had to get to the bottom of whether or not chickens could really handle eating spiders packed with poison.

So I hightailed it inside and started searching everywhere I could think of to find out if chooks really had what it takes to chow down on them venomous eight-leggers.

Buckle up buddy because I’m about to blow your mind with what I discovered!

Can Chickens Eat Venomous Spiders without Harm?

can chickens eat venomous spiders

Turns out chickens have some serious protections built into their digestive systems that allow them to snack on spiders that would lay us out flat, my friend.

Their stomach acid is no joke – we’re talking a pH of around 3 to 5 which is highly acidic, almost like battery acid! See, spider venoms work by injecting neurotoxins into whatever they bite.

But with chickens it’s a whole different ballgame.

Because of their super stomach acid, any toxins the spiders may inject just get completely neutralized and broken down before they even have a chance to be absorbed into the chicken’s body.

Neat, huh? It’s like their insides come equipped with a natural anti-venom.

Them toxins are no match for the powerful acid bath they receive in a chicken’s gut!

Now you may be thinking, “Well gee whiz Tanner, what if a spider was just massive in size? Couldn’t that overwhelm even a sturdy chicken’s defenses?” Well heck, even then these plucky birds have some tricks up their feathered sleeves as I’m about to explain.

See also  Can Chickens Eat Red Grapefruit?

While Tough, They Ain’t Totally Bulletproof

can chickens eat venomous spiders

You’re right to point out that even a chicken’s amazing protections have their limits.

A gargantuan black widow or something could potentially overcome a small bantam-size bird if it tried to swallow the whole thing in one gulp.

The key thing is those toxins need time get broken down and neutralized before getting absorbed into the bloodstream.

So a massive concentrated dose all at once may pose more of a risk than just a regular sized spider.

Think about it – the bigger the spider, the bigger the venom payload it’s carrying.

But for the average house spider or garden variety black widow? No problemo for these sturdy stomachers.

They’ll break it down to its components long before any harm can be done.

An important thing to note too is size matters both ways – a smaller chicken like a bantam would be more at risk than a big old buff Orpington.

But generally speaking, as long as chickens aren’t straight up force fed mega measure mama spiders, their defenses will see them through just fine.

You Won’t Believe What I’ve Seen With My Own Peepers!

can chickens eat venomous spiders

Ever since that first shocking sighting of Ol’ Bertie and her black widow snack, I’ve been keeping a close eye on the chickens’ diets to see if I noticed any other spidey surprise sightings.

And lemme tell ya, it seems these birds have actually developed quite the taste for poisonous spiders!

On more than one occasion since then, I’ve spotted one of the hens pecking away at a yard spider only to notice a red hourglass shape in the dirt where it had been.

It’s like they can actually sense which ones contain the most protein and nutrition.

Heck, maybe the neurotoxins add extra flavor for all I know!

But whatever it is, my flock has remained the picture of health even with their occasional bouts of arachnid appetizers.

Their feathers stay lustrous, they’re filling their eggs baskets daily, and not one sad face to be seen.

Goes to show just how well-equipped Mother Nature has made these birds to take on nature’s nastiest nibblers.

It’s been a real education observing it all play out right before my own eyes.

Who’d have thought something so small could have such a sturdy system built in for busting toxins.

The miracle of biology never ceases to amaze, I’ll tell ya what!

Now you’re probably sitting there wondering how in tarnation am I able to sleep at night knowing my chickens are out feasting on black widows.

Well lemme ease your mind, friend – as shocking as it may seem, these tough girls have it all under control.

Their gut defenses are nothing short of incredible, if I do say so myself.

Rest easy!

Their stomach acid is no joke – we’re talking a pH of around 3 to 5 which is highly acidic, almost like battery acid!

See also  Can Chickens Eat Tofu?

It seems these birds have actually developed quite the taste for poisonous spiders!

Which Specific Venomous Spiders Do Chickens Eat?

can chickens eat venomous spiders

The two main types of poisonous spiders commonly observed being consumed by chickens are black widows and brown recluse spiders.

Black widows are one of the most venomous spiders found throughout the world and are easily recognizable by their shiny black bodies and distinctive red hourglass marking on their abdomens.

Their neurotoxic venom contains lactice acid and can cause symptoms in humans ranging from mild discomfort to severe muscle pain if left untreated.

However, chickens have no issues breaking down the widow’s venom through their highly acidic digestive systems.

In fact, it seems some flocks may even actively seek out black widows as a protein source considering how often farmers observe the telltale red markings in coop dirt.

The brown recluse spider is also commonly eaten amongst chicken populations across parts of North America where they are found.

Known for its violin shaped marking on its back, the recluse packs a necrotizing venom capable of destroying surrounding flesh if it bites humans.

But for chickens, those same toxins just get fully neutralized upon consumption with no harm done to the birds.

How Much Venom Are Spiders Actually Injecting?

When considering if chickens can safely eat venomous spiders, it’s important to examine just how much venom different spiders are capable of injecting.

For most spiders, the amount of venom they inject per bite is actually quite small, often only measuring in micrograms.

Even the medically important black widow and brown recluse typically top out at injecting less than 20 micrograms per bite.

For reference, it would take the combined venoms of over 25 widow spiders to equal just 1 milligram, a very small measurement by weight.

With chickens weighing several pounds, it’s unlikely they could consume enough spiders in one sitting to reach a toxic dosage of venom.

Larger spiders are capable of injecting more venom certainly, but chickens have defenses like their strong stomachs acids that break venom down rapidly.

So in general, the trace amounts of venom in individual spiders pose little threat to the much larger body mass of chickens.

Can Chickens Develop Tolerance or Immunity to Spider Venom?

An interesting theory is that through repeated low level exposures to spider venom in their diets, chickens may build up some tolerance over time.

Their immune systems could potentially produce antibodies recognized components of certain venoms after ingesting them on multiple occasions.

This could enhance the birds’ natural protections and cause any venom consumed to be neutralized even faster.

Research on other animals has shown that sub-lethal doses of venom administered multiple times eventually results in greater survivability rates and decreased reaction times if bitten again.

See also  Raising Worms for Healthy, Happy Chickens 🪱🐔

Similarly, chickens raised on diets including small amounts of venomous spiders might experience these acquired tolerances.

However, more studies would need to be done comparing venom tolerance levels between flocks with spider diets versus ones without to say for certain.

Regardless of tolerance, chickens start off well-equipped but exposure may provide some additive benefits to their already venom-busting stomach systems.

Do All Chicken Breeds Tolerate Venom Equally?

When considering if chickens can safely eat venomous spiders, the breed of the chicken is an important factor.

More petite chicken breeds like bantams will naturally have less body mass to protect them versus a larger fowl like a Brahma.

Additionally, certain heritage breeds have been selectively bred for hardiness and disease resistance over generations on small farms.

These traits may provide some chickens breeds an advantage over more commercial hybrid breeds when dealing with toxins.

Some studies found chickens from non-selected commercial lines were more adversely impacted when given standardized venom doses versus a random bred flock.

However, the differences tend to be small and barring unusually large spider consumption, all major chicken breeds should tolerate occasional venomous spiders well.

Can Chickens Pass On Any Toxins When Eating Venomous Spiders?

With chickens completely breaking venom down, can they potentially spread any toxins to humans through their eggs or meat?

Research indicates this is highly unlikely considering chickens’ efficient digestive processes leave no intact venom compounds to accumulate.

The low pH in their proventriculus and gizzard denatures proteins while intestinal enzymes further break down any amino acids.

Any unabsorbed fragments that make it through are then excreted rather than being incorporated into tissues, eggs or meat.

In fact, studies feeding venomous spiders and snakes to chickens found no detectable venom residues left in their systems afterward.

So rest easy knowing those backyard eggs and any poultry consumed pose no toxic risk, even if the hens had an arachnid snack recently!

Should Chickens be Supplementally Fed Venomous Spiders?

While chickens can handle the occasional venomous spider encountered naturally, deliberately feeding them to flocks is not recommended.

Their protective systems work best breaking down small amounts of venom consumed through natural foraging behaviors.

Deliberately feeding large numbers of spiders could pose a cumulative toxicity risk depending on species, size and total dosage amounts.

It’s also generally inadvisable to habituate any predatory behaviors towards native spiders that control other pest populations.

Chickens maintained on a balanced feed with adequate protein do not require supplementation with venomous invertebrates.

Their natural defenses coupled with a diversity of their normal feed and forage is ideal for maintaining health while also living harmoniously with local ecosystems.

how to raise chickens for eggs book pdf

Get Crackin’ on Your Own Egg Empire

Do you crave the rich golden yolks and thick whites that only come from the freshest eggs?

After nearly a decade running my own egg empire and mastering the art of keeping chickens, I’ve stuffed all my insider secrets into the aptly named “How to Raise Chickens for Eggs”.

how to raise chickens for eggs book pdf

Get Crackin’ on Your Own Egg Empire

Do you crave the rich golden yolks and thick whites that only come from the freshest eggs?

Dream of a waddling flock of feathered friends in your own backyard?

Then stop dreaming and start hatching a plan, people!

This ain’t no chicken game. After nearly a decade running my own egg empire and mastering the art of keeping chickens, I’ve stuffed all my insider secrets into the aptly named “How to Raise Chickens for Eggs”.

I’m talking building a palace of a coop guaranteed to impress the neighbors, concocting feed for peak egg production, collecting eggs so perfect you’ll weep tears of joy – plus hilarious stories and accidental mishaps along the way.

So get cluckin’ and grab the key to creating your own morning egg paradise before I sell out!